Sunday, March 29, 2009

Katyn: who killed the Polish Officers?

I was asked to read the above. It is a summary of a book written by Yuri Mukhin in 1995 which claims to “prove” that it was the Germans and not the NKVD that killed the 25,000 Polish Officers at Katyn. Frankly I was not impressed with Mukhin’s “proof.” What Mukhin has written in the above article doesn’t qualify as “proof.” It is a series of assertions. Now an assertion may or may not be true, but it isn’t proof. If one wants to prove something, there must be evidence and the article doesn’t offer any.

On the other hand if someone were to believe all of Mukhin’s assertions about the Katyn massacre, then he would be convinced that the Germans did it. Unfortunately my 39 years working in Engineering in Aerospace, during which I was asked to review technical documents to determine their meaning, has corrupted me such that I have a visceral reaction when I am offered an assertion and asked to believe it as though it were a fact.

After reading the above I did Googled “Mukhin” and “Katyn” and found the following: This fellow was obviously more convinced by Mukhin than I was:

“There is a book that claims to prove the documents "discovered" under Gorbachov, and published under Yeltsin, "proving" the Soviets were responsible for the Katyn massacres of Polish officers, are forgeries. The book is Katynskii Detektiv, by Yuri Mukhin.

“Personally, I don't claim that this is the most important question. Mukhin doesn't, either, and he (and others) have written much other stuff since, on other topics. But it is a topic! The book has got wide publicity, made the Russian and Polish government upset.

“On top of it all, it's very, very well done! That doesn't mean it's conclusive. But I've read it - twice - and have changed my opinion from "the Soviets did it", to "the question is not settled."

“Anyway, in the case of this book, there is a summary, in English, on the web. At least you can get an idea of what the book is about, and of the argument. It's at

Here are some quotes that indicate why I find it more difficult than the writer above to take Mukhin seriously:

“In the West the conclusion of this investigation [by the Nazis and an international commission] was welcomed as yet another proof of the brutality of the USSR and the evils of communism.” [The “was welcomed” was Mukhin’s opinion and is not proved]

“By the 1950s, the Nazi evidence on Katyn reemerged in the west as slanderous propaganda to throw against the USSR.” [For this statement to be true, the west would have to know that the Nazi and international committee evidence was false; which is not proved by Mukhin. Note also the slanted “slanderous propaganda” Slanting is a device used in rhetoric to sway a reader without proof.]

“They base their argument on the words of the likes of Gorbachev and Yakovlev, and openly admit that Katyn was the responsibility of the Soviets.” [“likes of” is more Slanting. It invites the reader to assume that Gorbachev and Yakovlev are too disreputable to be believed – without proof.]

In Mukhin’s section on “The Polish Officers Corps” he interestingly describes this Corps as being worthy of being shot. Mukhin asserts that it is thoroughly evil and deserving of execution. Since Mukhin uses words to show he is sympathetic with the Communist cause and was perhaps a Communist himself, this is a strange approach to take in the process of asserting that the Soviets did not execute this Officer Corps.

“The new Polish ruling elite was arrogant and opportunistic. As part of the all out imperialist assault against Soviet Russia, the newly created Polish state launched and unprovoked invasion into its neighboring countries in 1920.” [How does an entire Officer Corps become “arrogant and opportunistic.” It can’t. Some officers, perhaps the leaders, could be arrogant and opportunistic, but not an entire Corps. Also, Mukhin is rather free with the word “imperialist.” He uses it throughout to describe the West and “the Polish Elite.”]

“However, the discovery of the actual decision of the Special Commission of the NKVD, has proved beyond a doubt that the USSR was not lying.” [This is quite a remarkable statement. In other places he asks us to assume that Gorbachev was lying, but here he asks us to believe that the NKVD would not lie. So any reported NKVD decision must be the truth and that should prove to the reader “beyond doubt” that the USSR was not lying.]

“. . . “these ‘historians” and the Gorbachev’s gang, resorted to forgeries and lies on the decision of the NKVD . . .” [Again, an ad hominem insult, i.e. that Gorbachev ran a gang, is provided to urge the reader not to be so na├»ve as to believe anything Gorbachev or his “gang” might say. Note also that he puts “historian” in quotes. He does that throughout inviting us to understand that these people aren’t true historians else they would understand “truth” and “proof” as Mukhin does.]

“Never again would Stalin trust the Polish government in exile, and proved once more their treacherous and cowardly nature.” [This had to do with why General Anders led his Army out of Russia and decided to fight with the British. Reports I’ve read indicate that these forces were not all “treacherous and cowardly” when they fought with the British; so the reader might suspect that there is more to this story than Mukhin gives us with his pejorative language.]

When Mukhin leaves off the silly insults and ad hominem attacks and discusses the Katyn evidence he because plausible. By that I mean, if the assertions he makes are true, then one should go even further than the fellow and believe that it was really the Germans and not the NKVD who killed the Polish Officers. However, plausibility does not comprise proof, and Mukhin does not offer proof. Perhaps he has in his book but he hasn’t in this article.

“So Tokarev, being smarter than these revisionists, told them exactly what they wanted to hear . . .” [The implication here is that Tokarev was afraid of Gorbachev, telling him what he wanted to hear. But in other places, people were not afraid of Stalin, Beria or the NKVD and only tell them the truth.]

I’ll provide Mukhin’s conclusion in full:

“What conclusion can be drawn from the evidence, counter-evidence, documents, forgeries and heaps of propaganda on Katyn? For 60 years the anti-communist forces of the world have told us Katyn was a Soviet responsibility. The Nazis proclaimed this as a crime of the Jewish communists. They used it as one of the many pretexts for placing into concentration camps and slaughtering tens of millions of Soviet citizens and Jews. The western imperialists used the Nazi pretext in the 1950s, to place on trial communists. They used it to launch a crusade against communism, to protect their empires and colonies, slaughtering more millions. The anti-communists and scoundrels ruling the USSR in the 80s and 90s used Katyn as a pretext for destroying the USSR and throwing the Soviet people into the brutal exploitation of capitalist and Mafiosi gangsters. Millions more died. Today, the modern revisionist "historians" would like to exult the Nazis of any responsibility. Today they use Katyn as yet another pretext to show how the Soviets "fabricated" the Holocaust and how they "fabricated" Auschwitz and all the other unimaginable crimes of the Nazis. Katyn has always been used as a weapon of the fascists and imperialists for justifying their murderous campaigns. The truth on Katyn however is far from what these Nazi sympathizers and scoundrels would like us to believe. Katyn was the work of the Nazis. It is they who killed the Polish officers after capturing them from Soviet camps. The conclusion one should draw simply from the heaps of lies, propaganda and forgeries the imperialists and Nazi-sympathizers, is that Katyn is their responsibility. Otherwise, there would have been no reason for the Nazis to conduct their "international" investigation as they did and for the Gorbachevite revisionists to create fake documents. But beyond their lies and forgeries, one should look at the truth on Katyn. The truth stands that the Polish officers were sentenced to terms of prison for their various war crimes. To tell the truth, no one should feel sorry for these Polish officers. They were traitors and cowards in the face of their country and people. However, they did not deserve a German bullet in the back of their head. Only a Polish bullet would have sufficed for their crimes against the Polish people.”

Anyone who has read many “historians” on these matters is going to find Mukhin’s “conclusion” extremely difficult to swallow. He provides us with rant rather than argument. Perhaps it is useful to those who want to know what the “Katyn denier” party line is, but none of this qualifies as proof. But Mukhin is interesting. If one has the stomach to wade through his insults and innuendo, one will find some of the major assertions used by the “Nazis did it” camp in Russia. And then when one reads through more serious works, one can recall his assertions for reconsideration.

As a contrast to Mukhin, one might consider the following site: . Note especially the bibliography in section 10.

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